David Graeber has researched the history of debt over the past 5,000 years. He wrote a book about this entitled: “Debt, the first 5000 years“. (including via torrentz can be found in digital version) Below a description of his book and an explanation of his writing in the interview below.
Every economics textbook says the same thing: Money was invented to replace onerous and complicated barter systems — to relieve ancient people from having to haul their goods to market. The problem with this version of history? There is not a shred of evidence to support it.
Here anthropologist David Graeber presents a stunning reversal of conventional wisdom. He shows that for more than 5,000 years, since the beginnings of the first agrarian empires, humans have used elaborate credit systems to buy and sell goods — that is, long before the invention of coins or cash. It is in this era, Graeber argues, that we also first encounter a society divided into debtors and creditors.
Graeber shows that arguments about debt and debt forgiveness have been at the center of political debates from Italy to China, as well as sparking innumerable insurrections. He also brilliantly demonstrates that the language of the ancient works of law and religion (words like "guilt," "sin," and "redemption") derive in large part from ancient debates about debt, and shape even our most basic ideas of right and wrong. We are still fighting these battles today without knowing it.
Debt: The First 5,000 Years is a fascinating chronicle of this little known history — as well as how it has defined human history, and what it means for the credit crisis of the present day and the future of our economy.
David Graeber shows that people have been concerned with questions about how to deal with debt for 5,000 years. And how money changers, the predecessors of today's bankers, are viewed. Throughout history it has also been shown that popular uprisings are very often caused by major debt crises ... It is interesting to note that the idea that debts must always be repaid is absurd. But he also gives many examples of how debt has been used throughout history to put an entire population in the chain of debt. In short, an exceptionally educational view on the history of debt. Backlight also spoke with Graeber and made a broadcast of his contributions.
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